BENGALURU: With a railway trackman testing positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, the first in the Bengaluru Railway Division, and six other railway employees too infected, alarm bells have started ringing in the 2,200-strong track and maintenance staff. The Division is now mulling dividing trackmen and gangmen into batches as they form the backbone of Railways and ensure that railway tracks are in good condition for trains.
Although tracks across the Bengaluru Division are carrying a much reduced load as only goods trains and special trains are running currently, even if no trains are run, it is crucial to keep the tracks in perfect condition, said a senior railway official. “Nearly 40 trackmen approached us on Friday seeking a way out. They are very committed and do not want to stop working.
However, everyone is worried about carrying home the infection and are looking at some improvement to be effected in the work spot,” the official told The New Sunday Express. There is no question of working in isolation as trackmen or gangmen need to carry out work in teams. Equipment needs to be taken to the spot in a trolley, the ballasting of tracks (packing of tracks with granite stones to ensure cushioning) has to be done and spot checks need to be carried out by walking many kilometres daily, he added.
“Beginning Monday, the Division is thinking of making one half of the trackmen work a week and stay in accommodation arranged here. So, the entire week they work, their families are not impacted. The next week they could stay at home and the other half works and stays back,” the official said.
This option has also been discussed with the trackmen, the official said. Of the 10,000-plus staff attached to the Division, seven have tested positive as on Friday night. Five family members of existing staff and retired staff too have tested positive with the wife of a retired employee dying due to the disease.